Wesley Bryan on his recovery, RBC Heritage win – and his throw-up moment
April 15, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
PGA TOUR – The CUT
Wesley Bryan’s road to recovery
Wesley Bryan was accustomed to staying home even before a global pandemic.
Bryan, 30, hasn’t played a PGA TOUR event in 18 months while recovering from shoulder surgery.
That long absence is the latest occurrence in a career that Bryan describes as “volatile” and turbulent.” He spent four years on mini-tours before earning his first Korn Ferry Tour card for the 2016 season. He won three times that year, then won the 2017 RBC Heritage in his rookie season on the PGA TOUR. He was ranked 37th in the world after he won at Harbour Town and finished 41st in that season’s FedExCup. He’s now ranked 1,554th in the world.
But Bryan struggled in the second half of 2018 with a shoulder injury that eventually needed surgery. He went under the knife in January 2019 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and didn’t tee it up in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event until two Korn Ferry Tour starts earlier this year. He missed the cut in his first before finishing T29 in the El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA. When Bryan does return to the PGA TOUR, he’ll play on a medical extension that gives him 21 starts to earn 376 FedExCup points.
The RBC Heritage was scheduled to be played this week before the PGA TOUR season was interrupted by the coronavirus. Bryan can’t say whether he would’ve been ready to tee it up in his home state at the site of his lone TOUR win, but he did watch the highlights this week for a video with PGA TOUR Digital. He is the first South Carolinian to win South Carolina’s PGA TOUR stop.
He also discussed his victory, his recovery process and the YouTube matches with his brother, George, in a Q&A with PGATOUR.COM. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Wesley Bryan wins RBC Heritage
PGATOUR.COM: Does it feel like it’s been three years since you won the RBC Heritage?
WESLEY BRYAN: “On one hand, I feel like it was just yesterday, but on the other hand, it feels so long ago. Watching the highlights, it brought back the memories and it definitely felt like a hot minute ago, that’s for dang sure.”
PGATOUR.COM: Where do you stand with your recovery from shoulder surgery?
BRYAN: “It’s hard to say. I don’t know if at this moment I’m ready to go back to playing full-time. When I play three to four days in a row, it wears down on me pretty quick. I do feel like my golf game is getting to a point where I’m extremely excited about competing. I just don’t know if I have the endurance. If someone told me I had to play four weeks in a row to try to make a living, I would probably be better off curled up in a ball in my bed. Overall, I’m excited to get back out there but a little bit bummed that it’s taken so long to heal up that last 5%.”
PGATOUR.COM: You’ve had an eventful pro career, full of highs and lows. How do you deal with it?
BRYAN: “There’s two words that I use to sum it up. There’s been a lot of turbulence and volatility. I would say my demeanor is a little more even-keeled to upbeat, and nothing really bothers me. When I hit the low points, which I’ve been in in the past couple years, and a couple years in college and a couple years on the mini-tours, I would say having my identity in something other than golf, having my identity in Jesus, and trying to be the best husband I can be, the best dad I can be, is way more important than being the best golfer I can be. I think that’s a perspective that’s necessary in sports. Otherwise, you’re going to be riding that roller-coaster of results-oriented satisfaction. So when it’s going well, I know it’s a bonus. It’s not deserved. It’s one of those fun little rides that I can’t take for granted and have to just enjoy. That’s the way I’ve been dealing with a lot of volatility in my golf.”
PGATOUR.COM: What do you miss about competing?
BRYAN: “I feel like deep down to my core, I’m an extremely competitive person. I just miss competition. I miss that fire that burns a little hotter when the gun goes off.”
PGATOUR.COM: What was the impetus for the YouTube matches with your brother George?
BRYAN: “We’re filming about one or two a week, just nine holes. We’ve probably filmed six so far. George was just getting back into the vlogging stuff. The (Bryan Bros) channel was dead for a while after we stopped doing the trick-shot stuff but now it’s back on a bit of a heater and picking up subscribers. We’re fueling the fire with content while everyone’s quarantined.”
PGATOUR.COM: What was the highlight of watching the highlights from your Heritage win?
BRYAN: “I’m just glad I didn’t miss the 18th fairway. If you miss a 95-yard-wide fairway with a one-stroke lead, that’s probably something you don’t come back from. I actually hit a pretty good drive. That’s one thing I was excited about.”
PGATOUR.COM: And take us back through the “I threw up in my mouth” moment on 17?
BRYAN: “I wasn’t thinking about throwing up. I did. My mouth was probably 75% full of vomit. It was right before the group in front of us put the flag in and I knew I was next up on the tee. I was standing over there with (William Lanier, Bryan’s caddie), trying to drink a bottle of water and wet the whistle. It didn’t go down, which I thought was weird. And then upchuck came. I felt like if I spit it out, it would make me gag more, so I choked it back down with the water. As soon as I got over the ball, all the nerves subsided, and I had a really good feeling about the shot.”